Airman Finds Direction and Belonging in the Michigan ANG

140209-Z-EZ686-084 – Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams is seen in her equipment used as a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 9, 2014. Adams was born in the Philippines and moved to Michigan when she began college. She said she found a sense of belonging and direction when she joined the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa / Released)

140209-Z-EZ686-084 – Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams is seen in her equipment used as a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., Feb. 9, 2014. Adams was born in the Philippines and moved to Michigan when she began college. She said she found a sense of belonging and direction when she joined the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by MSgt. David Kujawa / Released)

SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- (Part of a series of stories about Michigan Air National Guard Airmen originally from different countries.)

Born and raised in the Philippines, Airman 1st Class Sarah Adams decided to travel to Michigan to attend college. Her parents were American missionaries who lived in the Philippines for about 30 years and Spring Arbor University in Michigan offers a tuition discount for children of missionaries.

But, a funny thing happened during and after her college experience.

"When I first got to Spring Arbor, I felt a little different because I wasn't from the U.S.," she recalled, now wearing the uniform of a Security Forces Airman with the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Wing. "After I graduated and went back home, it was like I didn't fit in there either, because I had become too Americanized."

So, Adams decided to return to Michigan and begin her life. She knew a few things about unexpected circumstances. Her life practically started that way.

Adams was born to a Filipino mother and then adopted just hours after she was born.

"My mother got a call in the middle of the night, 'Do you want her?' They didn't have anything ready for a baby, but she and my father immediately went to the hospital and brought me home," Adams said.

Her parents are white Americans and she is Filipino, but together - along with two older brothers who are biological sons of the parents -- they were a family. And that's what matters most.

"My older brother, who is 6'7" and obviously looks nothing like me, he loves to introduce me as his twin sister," said the diminutive Airman.

Both of Adams' brothers also attended Spring Arbor and now live in Michigan. A couple of years ago, her parents retired from their missionary work and returned to her father's home state of Alaska.

After Adams graduated from Spring Arbor in 2009 - and her decision to make Michigan her permanent home - she found herself "looking for some direction in my life. I just wasn't sure what it was I was supposed to be doing."

Because Adams was the child of U.S. citizens, she was also a U.S. citizen. While she did not face the legal hurdles of citizenship, she did need to figure out how and where she fit in.

A friend of her brother's had served in the Air National Guard, and Adams had always had a general interest in law enforcement. Those two ideas came together in the summer of 2012, when she enlisted and joined the Security Forces squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

"I love the people in my unit," Adams said, during a recent training weekend. "They look so intimidating, but really they are so friendly. And they have a knowledge of not just law enforcement and security, but so many different things."

Ward, the equal opportunity officer, said Adams' experience is both unique, but similar to many others who join the Air National Guard, all coming from different places in life.

"It takes a diverse set of skills to operate an Air Force Wing," said 1Lt. Valerie Ward, equal opportunity officer for the 127th Wing. "We need pilots, maintenance specialists, security forces and firefighters. We need people with expertise in personnel, legal affairs, finance and a wide range of other skills. Just like we need diverse skills sets, we need a diverse group of people to serve as Airmen. When we draw on the talents of all parts of our society, we are able to achieve our greatest accomplishments. When all these diverse talents, skills and backgrounds come together, we truly become the finest, strongest Air Force in the world."

For Adams, beginning a career as an Airman with the Michigan ANG is proving to be the right move.

"I always imagined a better job, a better set of opportunities in the U.S. and I see that happening for me right now," Adams said.

As a member of the Air National Guard, Adams generally serves one weekend per month with the Guard, as well as about two weeks of active duty during the year. In her civilian life, she recently began working with a logistics company that performs contract work for the U.S. Army.

"I feel like the Air National Guard has given me that direction I was looking for," Adams said. "The whole basic training and technical school experience was so different than anything I had done before. To be able to meet people from all over and share that experience with them was great. I really feel like I got a lot from that experience."

Comprised of approximately 1,700 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marks its 97th year of continuous military air operations in 2014.